Here’s service with a smile: Local couple shows up late at Smitty’s right after it opens last November. The joint’s 32 seats are taken, and even its six-stool takeout room is full. But pitmaster/owner Andrew Grett chops some pulled pork for sandwiches, throws in some free sides, and sends the couple home happy. Smitty’s is a simple, endearing, neighborhood place that serves up honest eats and homey service.
“In the South, barbecue places are part of the neighborhood, where you go to eat well and feel good,” says Grett. “That’s what I wanted to bring to Lyndhurst.” Since visiting Kentucky as a teenager, his dream has been to own his own rib shack. A Mountainside native, Grett grew up in the eateries his father owned—Auberge Swiss in Berkeley Heights and La Petite Patisserie in Springfield—and in his uncle’s butcher store in Pompton Lakes, Farmview Pork Store. After Fairleigh Dickinson and culinary school, he cooked at Zoe and Fresco in Manhattan, Huntley Tavern in Summit, and the Tewksbury Inn in Oldwick.
“Barbecue was the best food I’d ever tasted,” he says. “I started experimenting with a smoker at home and at work.” In Smitty’s galley kitchen, he produces spice-rubbed, hickory-smoked St. Louis ribs, Carolina-style pulled pork shoulder, Texas mesquite-smoked beef brisket, and Kentucky-inspired applewood-smoked chicken. The ribs are a bit chewy, but the chicken and brisket are moist and tasty. And the pulled pork, so tender it just falls off the bone, is a standout.
Worthy sides include Grett’s hand-cut, house-made sweet potato fries and mini-loaves of corn bread: his tortilla-wrapped pulled pork quesadillas make terrific takeout. The chef says that diners, particularly young ones, love his mac and cheese—shells in a goo the color and texture of Velveeta. The chef swears it’s made with cheddar and Monterey Jack. Smitty’s comes across as so warm and earnest, I reckon he’s on the level.